Friday, February 12, 2010

Lichen: Interesting critiques of World University and School from a friend, And Response

Here are some interesting critiques of World University and School from a friend.


So don't take this the wrong way but I'll be honest and reiterate that I basically think most of us should work with existing infrastructure more than we are. Push the institutions (mostly headed by older people more leery of the web) to take better advantage of new possibilities. The only major change is in terms of accessibility (fewer geographical restrictions) and digital text books that are essentially free. Knowledge and legitimate analysis hasn't changed substantially and the paradigms aren't really that new. Digital educating (via second life or whatever) has a lot of basic drawbacks, too, lets not forget. Honestly I think it's a poor substitute for a small class with an engaged professor and a good reading list.

In terms of the web: There's so much heterogeneous and difficult to find information on the web and one of the few things bringing them together are search engines. So when you ask me to post to World U I have to ask: why there and not Wikipedia or my own site or the ARs site? I'm pretty sure will be around in ten years but I don't know what your long term plans are. There are so many "web universities" out there! All the entrepreneurial spirit on the web, even for non-profit oriented models like yours, has led to a very disconnected bunch of voices. But existing infrastructure and institutions will persist, so why not work with them?


Dear Petros,

Good questions and critiques.

In brief, I haven't seen an opportunity on the internet where people can teach to their web cams - which is open to teaching and learning focused (a kind of a meta-directory), and which is also academically focused, - and where people can go directly into a virtual world to exchange ideas through video, voice and type chat. I agree that digital education has its limitations, but WUaS will complement on-the-ground education. These main WUaS sections go way beyond courses (with a 'great university' focus), subjects (all), 'languages' (all), 'nation states' (all), 'educational software,' 'You at World University,' 'Hardware resources,' and 'Research,' etc., - even an in-world teaching hospital, with health care, and a music school. These will benefit all the folks who don't have access to existing educational 'infrastructure,' and, as the other 4.7 billion people come online and grow up, WUaS will has remarkable potential. It's kind of the 'circulatory system' for OLPC's 2 billion kids, complementing their successful project, which we talked about today.

Also, WUaS builds on great existing infrastructure, by aggregating all the great, open, free, teaching and learning content on the web as wiki, - and potentially in all languages, by giving people an opportunity to create it as well. Existing educational 'infrastructure' continues, and WUaS comes to complement this. I hope WUaS will also aggregate all the heterogeneous teaching and learning material on the web and make it accessible, like Wikipedia. WUaS's wiki is a remarkable, timely and topical idea.

The open teaching of courses doesn't yet exist on the web - even in Wikipedia. And I think World University & School will enter the same 'sphere of thinking' as Wikipedia, and come complement it, as well. An open opportunity to teach is something I've wished for personally in a number of ways over the years, and I'm teaching a class on the information technology revolution right now.

Also World University & School is potentially in all languages, nation states, subjects and at all levels, with a focus on One Laptop per Child countries, and everyone, so this will help not only OLPC countries, but even offer a rationale for making broadband available universally.

And there are a lot of other fascinating possibilities - like the basis for an Universal Translator which builds on an archive of all languages. Here's the long term plan, with calendar:

And the board of directors for World University and School are great, and good fits, for WUaS, - so WUaS has a great beginning network. And as a wiki - for free educational resources - it will help a lot of people, and bring many to the web.

As Laura and Paul in the Cal Anthro department, and many other Cal professors, observe, the university as a whole is in crisis; it's moribund. I think the wiki World University and School is a remarkable, creative opportunity and web resource for all, - in its openness. And openness infrastructure like this doesn't yet exist.

Here's one grant entry that might clarify things further for you about WUaS' focus:

I hope eventually that this WUaS archaeology resource becomes helpful for you, if not now.

And I think WUaS will create a lot! of jobs, which will also help a lot! of people.

And perhaps it will create new kinds of discourses around idea exchange ... Let's keep in touch about World University, as it develops.


( - February 12, 2010)

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